THERE is more than meets the eye when the man involved in a scuffle with two Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) enforcement staff recently is charged in court.
I will leave the case to the honourable judge, who alone has the power to decide whether the case is frivolous and a waste of the court’s precious time. This is beyond my scope.
However, I would like to comment on the way the case was handled by all the parties involved—the MBPJ, the police, the Attorney-General’s chamber, the Selangor state government and the Local Government & Development Ministry.
Although I do not wish to influence the decision of the honourable judge, to me, if the man is sentenced to jail for even one day or fined RM1, I think this is an injustice that we as a society have failed to stand with as an animal lover.
No law should be used against a man who is just trying to show acts of kindness by nurturing these poor animals to good health, while there are also mentally sick people who would torch the animals or poison them.
Although I may not be an animal lover myself, the stray animals have a right to be taken into good custody by pet lovers. I have seen these animals turn into lovely pets, both in Australia and in Malaysia, when they are given a good home.
It is, therefore, very disappointing when Petaling Jaya police chief Fakhrudin Abdul Hamid announced that the man would be charged under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing government officials from carrying out their duties.
Three important questions
In the first place, I would like to urge Petaling Jaya MP Lee Chean Chun to ask in Parliament if these two officers turning up at the man’s premises had a search warrant. Did the police investigate this aspect or take any statements from the enforcement officers themselves since a police report had been lodged?
In what appears to be the case that they did not have a search warrant, were they, therefore, trespassing into the man’s private premises?
Should they not be charged for entering a private premise without a search warrant? Before we are so quick in charging the senior citizen, these are some of the questions that both the Attorney-General Tan Sri Idrus Harun and Fakhrudin should answer.
Secondly, are enforcement officers allowed to behave like thugs when they carry out their job, especially in cases that involve civilians? This is not the first or isolated incident.
If they behaved like thugs, for sure, a scuffle would happen even though the civilian was not in a position to fight back violently due to his age. It is clear from the signs of injury on his face that he was not easily overpowered by the younger officer.
The third question I would like to ask is how Section 186 of the Penal Code is being interpreted. Often, when the enforcement units turn thuggish and civilians have to put up a struggle, it is the civilians who are charged while the enforcement officers get away with just a slap on the wrist.
Are we allowing our enforcement officers to continue to be more thuggish in their behaviours knowing that they can use this section of the Penal Code to protect themselves?
A scenario for the illustration
Before I end, let me give you a scenario. At one o’clock past midnight, you and your family members are asleep. Then, two patrol cars turn up at your home. They claim to be policemen, and they have a search warrant.
One of them acts roughly and ransacks your home, turning things upside down, including your most expensive ceramic vase, which you bought from Egypt. It is a rare vase, costing some RM40,000.
What do you do? Allow him to just push it over the table and let it fall to the floor? Would you not want to stop him, and say, “Bro, please, there is nothing in the vase.” The moment your hand gets on his, it is interpreted as obstructing a government officer in his work. He then brushes you aside in a very rough manner, thinking that there is drug in it.
Out of anger, you feel that he is being unreasonable, and none of his colleagues hold him back. And your treasured ceramic vase is now on the floor, smashed into pieces.
You then try to stop him from doing further damage to your treasured masterpieces, which you have paid a lot of money for.
Worse is when you lodge a police report and the police accuse you of resisting arrest or obstructing the police officers from carrying out their job.
So, please put yourself in the shoes of the senior citizen and see if justice is being done by charging him instead of the thuggish enforcement officers.
Empower judges to carry out own investigation
It is time for the parliament to enact a law that allows judges to carry out their independent investigations in order to uphold justice.
If I recall correctly, in the Scorpene submarine case, the presiding judge also had the power of investigation.
Because in a number of cases, the laws have been used to incriminate a man of peace, whose reaction was the result of being provoked by some thuggish behaviour of the enforcement officers themselves, our judges must be empowered to get to the bottom of things instead of depending on just the evidence provided by both the prosecution and defence counsels. — March 31, 2023
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
All photos credited to Stephen Ng’s blog